Cabinet library Advice


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Long story short, we import European cabinets that do not have a manufactures catalog for any software.  So far Chief seems to be the best solution for design and shop drawing creation but I have a few questions.


1. Has anyone set up a complete catalog of cabinets in the library?

2. Can a custom catalog be imported or does each object need to be created an saved?

3. What about the import of custom finishes, can this be done in bulk?


Is creating our own library even the right approach to the problem?  Open to professional feedback


Thanks, Mitch 

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You were right to ask the question over in the Q & A section, this is for tips on how to not for questions. That said I thought it was such a good question when I saw it over there I decided to answer it over here.

Setting up a cabinet brand library



This is how I have do it. My goal is to maximize productivity when working and to get everything that is needed into a cabinet shedule.

1-Determine the type of cabinets you use the most and include those that have accessories or major modifications. You want to end up with about 2 dozen or so cabinets. You can add to it as you go but this part is really worth sitting down and doing. Keep a plan file with 4 walls and all of the cabinets you make in it.


2-Make most of the cabinets 15” wide while it appears that you won’t get a “won’t fit” message as of X11 it’s still good practice. There are exceptions-Fridge, Oven, maybe a wide drawer base, micro cabinets. Make things like trash pullouts the minimum size your maker allows.


3-Don’t overlook parts-things like fridge panels, shelves etc. While we can now include partitions and shelves in the cabinet schedule I still make them from cabinets since it allows more control (you can’t add a panel to the side of a partition) For millwork and molding go to the end.


4-Change the label for each cabinet to match the brands nomenclature. I’ve messed around with macros for labels but I find that with all of the cabinet hacking I do the macros often become unusable. It’s just as easy to have the labels in place. That said you label should include macros for the sizes needed in the final label -such as W %width%%height%
NOTE that there are macros around on the forum that will format dimensions to something better than the ones from the drop down list under “Object Specific” I have macros that read to 1/16ths, 1/8ths, inches, and 3” increments. What you use depends on what the maker requires. (order cabinet in 3” increments then specify reduce width would use the 3” macro)


5-Learn about the custom object information fields (located in the schedule defaults) you are going to want to create some of those and use them. Other nomenclature that I like to have listed would be typical mods for a style of cabinet. It is easier to delete nomenclature than to go around typeing it.
You may want to use the built in Code field for modification macros which may or may not help if you get around to an item list. Because of how I hack cabinets I have OIP filed for door swing and cabinet sides (keep the names of OIP fields short but understandable) Example-I always flush finish exposed sides of cabinets so every cabinet in the library lists both left and right options for that as a mod.


6-CRITICAL-you want everything possible in the cabinets set to use default. A few things won’t work that way-I for instance you use a different style for larger drawers than smaller ones you can’t set that as a default (yet), the top row height of drawers are not available as a default. Go through the DBX and learn what they are. The best way is to set the defaults for the file your working in-make a few cabinets, then change the defaults and see what happens to your cabinets. Do not overlook the accessories tab. A note about material defaults-you want to use the Defaults Materials to change door style and cabinet materials. Unfortunately there is also a default material in the cabinet defaults that will override that setting-until you add a new door which will follow the Default Materials instead (PIA that shouldn’t be but explore it so you understand it until they change it….some day)
NOTE_ I often set these all to a special layer such as Base Cabinet 2, Wall Cabinet 2

7- Once you have all the cabinet to your liking you need to add them-one at a time.  IF your user library is not tidy, IOW if you have stufff floating in ther that is not in a folder, make a new folder and put all of the floating stuff into it. You want your new cabinets to be the only things floating in the user library.
Now -First open the cabinet and copy the label, close, add to library (is use a keyboard shortcut for that), immediately hit the F2 key (for rename since the newly added cabinet is highlighted) then ctrl +v (to paste the label you copied). Work your way around the plan. I usually have a schedule in the plan and order it so I can keep track of which cabinets I’ve added and have a final count.
After all of the cabinets are in place, make a new folder-something like “  _brandX” (the spaces and underscore are used to postion the folder to the top of the tree)
Then select ALL of the new cabinets, copy, go to the folder and paste. Don’t cut in case you made a mistake or missed something. Check the quantity in the folder against the list of floaters. IF they match delete the floaters.


8-Using the new library. I design enitirely with standard generic cabinets from the build menu.(hotkeys for each type) and just keep track of the sizes I want along with a mental note of what will go where.
Once the layout is done then I go around and use replace from library (also a hotkey) One at a time. After all are swapped out fro the library I configure any that need alterations-if those are important they can get added to the library. IF they are minor or unsual I will add them to a project specific folder instead of my cabinet brand folder. Now is a good time to reorder the schedule numbering and double check the modifications listed. (multiple monitors help here-use “Open Row Object” from the schedule to make changes.


Door styles-IF your brand is not supported by Chief don’t fret. Door symbols are easy to make. At some point you will end up with a collection of parts for doing this which is really handy if you work with a truly custom brand. Search in both the Symbols and the Tips forum-I’ve posted how to and sample plans in the past. Always set your new custom doors style material to “Use default” prior to adding it to your library.


Millwork and other-you can include anything in a cabinet schedule and list the correct size. Millwork,corbels, range hoods, even a car :) To get an item into the cabinet schedule you first turn it into a cabinet door symbol. You will need to fiddle with this and learn about symbol origins and strecth zone, planes and the like. Once it is a door symbol you can then use it on a cabinet as a side panel inset. Size the cabinet to be what the schedule should read. A sample plan is included but you can find more info seaching Tips forum and the like.


Moldings-this one gets to be tricky. I’ve recently become willing to design with moldings include in the cabinet DBX-BUT rough design ONLY. I use molding lines for moldings (until Chief gives us control of the side overhand on cabinets). I keep them in a warehouse plan but have taken to also using the new stacked modling feature. My molding lines label includes a macro that calculates how many stick need to be ordered based on total run and number of cuts. Problem with that is they don’t end up in the schedule. Now Chief has added moldings to the compnonent list-hence the material list BUT there is no way to get a total for order from that into a schedule. SO- I have architectural blocks of various individual modlings in 8 ft lengths with a molding label and sized to match the molding, (and some in 10 ft lengths). Once everything is done and ready to order I drop those into a plan from my library. They are set to sit below the floor (so careful if you are also doing any structural work). If I need 5 pieces of crown I copy in place 4 times to get a total of 5.

This works best if you have the schedule set to group items that are the same BUT that is not good for cabinets (no mfg I know of allows you to order multiples of a cabinet except maybe truck load brands). To get around that if you have identical cabinets in the schedule add a different something to an OIP field that is included in the schedule-it can be just an extra space at the front.
Arch blocks also work for miscellaneous objects like touch up kits, extra hardware etc. just bury them in the floor.
The one issue with arch blocks is that the dimensions in the schedule are going to read according to the items placement in a cartesian plane NOT on the size you set the object. Sample included in plan.

Corbels in schedule.plan

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I can't thank you enough for the detailed response.  I'm going to have to read it 10 times or more for it all to sink in;)


Wow, looks like i have a lot to learn. 


Thanks again!

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